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Public Benefits: What should I know about the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program?

I’ve heard that families with children who qualify for free or reduced priced meals at school may receive food assistance benefits.  Is this correct?

Yes.  Ohio was approved for the new Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program.  This is a program providing payments to families with children who normally receive free and reduced school meals.  Many families received a payment in the spring and a second round of payments will be issued in the fall. Students who are eligible for free or reduced-price meals AND who are remote learning for at least five days in a row between August 1 and September 30, 2020 will qualify.

My child never received free or reduced priced meals.  Will we still receive the new P-EBT benefits?

Maybe.  Nearly 1,000 schools in Ohio are considered "community eligibility" schools where all children have access to free school meals.  This includes many metropolitan school districts, including Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati public schools. EVERY child in the school district is eligible for P-EBT, even if your family’s income would be too high if applying for SNAP or reduced meals directly.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT and how do I receive it?

You do not have to apply for the P-EBT benefits.  If your family already gets food assistance, the benefit will be added to your Ohio Direction (EBT) card.  Families who do not receive SNAP benefits will be mailed an EBT card for each child.  It will be white with “OHIO P-EBT” at the top, following by a number and the child’s name.  You will have to activate the card by calling the phone number on the back of the card.

How much will I receive?

Children enrolled in free or reduced lunch programs in March or earlier received full P-EBT benefit of $302.10. Children who enrolled in April received $239.40. Students who are eligible in the fall should receive around $175.

When will I receive these benefits?

Families of students who are eligible in fall 2020 should receive their benefit around early October. Families who already have Ohio Direction (EBT) cards may receive them earlier.

How can I use these benefits?

These benefits can be used to buy food items at grocery stores and retailers that accept the Ohio Direction Card (also referred to as an EBT card).   Unused benefits will rollover month-to-month and must be used within 365 days.

I am not eligible to receive SNAP usually because of my income or immigration status.  Will I still receive P-EBT benefits?

Yes.  If your child normally receives free and reduced meals at school, you will still receive P-EBT.  Note that all families with children attending the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will receive this benefit.

What if my school district is distributing “grab and go” meals for my children?   Will I still receive the P-EBT benefits?

Yes.  If your school district continues to offer “grab and go” meals, you can receive both the P-EBT benefit and the school offered meals.

Are emergency SNAP benefits different from P-EBT benefits?

Yes.  The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services is also issuing additional SNAP (food stamp) benefits to households that do not currently get the maximum amount allowed for their household size.

Click here for information about how much your household might get, how to shop for food online, and how to apply for SNAP benefits.

Questions about P-EBT? Call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services hotline: 1-866-244-0071.  Click here for more information about P-EBT.


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